Arsenal put on a show in the impressive surroundings of LA’s SoFi Stadium as Kai Havertz found the net again in their 5-3 pre-season win over Barcelona.
Barca twice led before half-time on the US West Coast, with Robert Lewandowski stabbing home on the rebound inside 10 minutes for the opener.
That was cancelled out by Bukayo Saka soon after, following a heavy Andreas Christensen touch, before the England winger wasted the chance to put Arsenal in front when he missed altogether from a penalty.
Barca made him pay as Raphinha’s deflected free-kick caught out Aaron Ramsdale at his far post, but shortly before the break Havertz levelled with an instinctive finish from Martin Odegaard’s knock-down.
The flurry of goals continued after half-time, although was rather more one-sided, as Leandro Trossard got himself on the scoresheet with a swept finish into the bottom corner to hand the Gunners the lead for the first time.
Barca were then inches away from keeping the rollercoaster scoring ride going but Ousmane Dembele was denied by the foot of Ramsdale’s near post.
Instead, a superb first-time finish from Trossard from Kieran Tierney’s deep cross doubled the Gunners’ advantage, and had too much power for sub goalkeeper Inaki Pena.
The woodwork was Arsenal’s saviour again late on to deny young Barca left-back Alejandro Balde. But the LaLiga champions did finally find a second-half breakthrough through a familiar face, when ex-Man City winger Ferran Torres fired in across Ramsdale.
Determined to have the last laugh, the Gunners rounded off the scoring with the pick of the goals from Fabio Vieira, whose 25-yard stunner was a fitting finish to an entertaining encounter in Los Angeles.
Declan Rice, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Folarin Balogun, the latter wanted by Inter Milan this summer, all missed the match with minor injuries, Mikel Arteta confirmed after full-time.
Arsenal: Ramsdale, White, Timber (Tierney 70), Saliba (Kiwior 70), Gabriel (Holding 84), Partey (Jorginho 62), Havertz, Saka (Cozier-Duberry 84), Odegaard (Vieira 62), Trossard (Martinelli 79), Jesus (Nketiah 79).
Not used: Hein, Trusty, Tomiyasu, Marquinhos.
Arteta defends players after Xavi surprised by Arsenal ‘intensity’
Arteta stepped in to defend his players after opposite number Xavi Hernandez had questioned the “unusual” level of intensity Arsenal had put into the game – racking up three yellow cards in the process, a rarity in pre-season.
“It got really competitive for a friendly match,” he said. “It got that way after the first tackle, the first goal. Playing in front of 70,000 people helps create an atmosphere. They are elite players and they all want to win.
“But at the end, I think it got a bit too much for a friendly, but I think the show that we put in for all the people that came to watch was really good. At the end of the day, football belongs to the players.
“We’re playing in front of 70,000 people, and when it comes down to it, as soon as the game starts, they’ll rebel against the coaches and do what they want as soon as there’s the first foul, as soon as there’s the first goal, they’ll start getting intense and they’ll start playing.”
Xavi’s side were playing their first match of pre-season after a bout of illness saw their previous game with Juventus called off.
The Barca boss clashed with his former Camp Nou midfield colleague Arteta during the match, and explained what had happened on the touchline after the game.
Xavi said: “I said to Arteta that it was like a Champions League game. It was a little unusual, the intensity they put into the game.
“We took it seriously but they played at a different tempo and deserved the win. We were a little soft in defence.”
Arsenal’s pre-season fixtures and results
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